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Toyota Prius Prime Remains Top-Selling Affordable EV Despite Tesla Model 3 Disruption

Toyota's Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle sales continue to grow, despite Tesla's Model 3 market disruption.


Toyota's Prius Prime was again the top-selling affordable electrified vehicle in America in August. That makes eight consecutive months of beating the Chevy Bolt, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and every other affordable EV offering in North America.

No other affordable electrified vehicle has topped the Prius Prime's sales in calendar 2018. Based on the sheer volume of its lead over the number two Volt, it appears as if Toyota's PHEV will end the year as the top-selling affordable EV. Toyota's Prius Prime has a winning formula that outsells 40 other models in the U.S. market from virtually every automaker.

Year to date, the Prius Prime has also outsold the Tesla Model S and also the Tesla Model X (individually). The Tesla Model 3 is, of course, running the table presently. It has had a very serious impact on the sale of the BMW 3 Series and other BMW small sedan sales. However, the Toyota Prius Prime seems unaffected by the Model 3's better-late-than-never entry to the EV marketplace. In fact, despite the Tesla Model 3 having its top-selling month, the Prius Prime also had a net increase of 14% in its August sales topping 2,000 units again for the seventh time in the last nine months.

Luckily for the Prius Prime, and other affordable EVs, the Tesla Model 3 is priced to start around $50K (before government incentives). The Prius Prime is now selling after incentives for as low as $18K in EV-targeted markets like Massachusetts. They serve buyers with different budgets.

Prius Prime Quick Facts:
The Prius Prime Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has an all-electric range of around 25 miles. The EPA estimates that the Prius Prime has an MPGe rating of 133 and that when operating as a hybrid the Prime earns a 54 MPG combined rating. The 2018 Prius Prime is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

*Source note: Chevrolet and Tesla sales estimates provided by Inside EVs.


DeanMcManis (not verified)    September 7, 2018 - 3:34AM

You have good reason to be a fan of the Prius Prime, and it's sales are about double of the Bolt, Volt, Leaf, and Clarity. But of course your qualifier of "affordable" EV excludes the Tesla Model 3, which has about double the sales of the Prius Prime.
Thanks for showing the link comparing the subsidized costs of different PHEVs and BEVs in MA, however it does show the Volt and Leaf as starting around $16K there, and the base Clarity PHEV costing about the same $18K as the base Prius Prime does after EV credits, rebates, and discounts.

John Goreham    September 7, 2018 - 8:56AM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

Yes, it is amazing what a big group of various new EVs are available for under $20K. The dealers in Mass have even run TV spots showing their inventory of Bolts. There is a real push here in the Mass / RI area on EVs. Mass was also an early adopter state for Teslas. My small town with just one redlight had two Model S cars the first year they were sold.

lorri lepard (not verified)    September 15, 2018 - 6:11AM

Thank you for this article. My husband and I purchased a Prime in March 18 thinking we could cut down our gas consumption a little bit but we have been very pleasantly surprised.

We have driven 12,000+ miles commuting 60 miles daily and we just put in our fourth tank of gas. The car runs virtually all electric for commuting and city driving and quietly switches to hybrid on longer trips. We charge the car at home and work on regular 120v electricity, and our home bill increased by $15 so we are thrilled. Between the fuel savings and reduced oil changes (based on our driving we will be changing the oil every 18000 mi) and the brakes lasting so long we expect this car will be the least expensive car we've ever driven.

Toyota has done a great job of designing a car that looks like a sport sedan but functions like a station wagon. We couldn't recommend it enough.

(BTY My daughter is driving our nine year old Prius with 250000 mi. and reports that it still runs and looks like new.)

Kathy (not verified)    November 3, 2018 - 12:07PM

Like Lorri, above, the electricity cost to charge my Prime is negligible compared to 3$/gal gas. I bought my 2017 Prime Advanced off the lot during the last few days of 2017 for well under the MSRP and the dealer did not charge for the premium color nor the all-weather mats (about half what my husband is paying for his Tesla.) The Prime obviates range anxiety and since my daily commute is only occasionally more than 25 miles, the car is mostly electric for my situation but gives me 55 mpg if I do use the ICE. I calculate the actual mileage every time I fill up (about once a month whether I need to or not), and routinely get more than 100 mpg. The performance is fine and switching into power mode for highway merging is more than sufficient. Finally, having just retired a 2001 Corolla with 250,000 miles, I can attest to the reliability of the Toyota product. The down side for families is that the Prime only seats 4. However, I recommend the Prime to those who have a short commute or are retired and not driving much - in these cases, the Toyota Prime is the best of all worlds in my opinion.